Compendium of Data Dominionism | INDEX_A.1: Alphabet Inc (Google)

Knowledge is power, but it does not exist in a vacuum. In any society, but especially an interconnected, technological society, those who can control the majority of the information flows are possessed of, not just great power, but arguably, the greatest power. This is not to say that control of data flows, nor power more generally, is always a negative eventuality (quite the contrary); some forms of information (such as those pertinent to the manufacture of deadly diseases or nuclear weaponry, etc) should be, it can be plausibly argued, controlled, and stringently. However, quite obviously, the majority of information placed onto the public sphere falls well outside this classification-range, thus, it is important to understand who controls what, where and how, and to evaluate such organizations and their practices without undue preconception.

With that firmly in mind, we can turn our attention to the report-proper, which looks to key nexus-points of information generation and control, in as thorough and metadiagrammatic a fashion as possible.

Alphabet Incorporated (Google)

“[Google’s] atmosphere of creativity and
challenge… has helped us provide
unbiased, accurate and free access to
information for those who rely on us
around the world.”
—Larry Page and Sergey Brin
2004 Founders’ IPO Letter

“Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google. This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main internet products contained in Alphabet instead. […] Fundamentally, we believe this allows us more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related.” — Larry Page, G Is For Google. 2015.

Notable personalities:

HQ: 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, US.

Whilst the name of Google is globally ubiquitous, Alphabet Inc. is considerably less well known. Alphabet Inc (abc.xyz) is a corporate holding conglomerate forged out of the 2015 restructuring of Google and the tech-giant’s present parent company.

In addition to Google (and Google Fiber) Alphabet’s subsidies as of this 11/30/18 writing include:

Alphabet’s Google is the single most trafficked website on earth. As such, it is also the single greatest conduit to information on earth and thus, potentially, the single greatest barricade. For sometime it has been something of an open secret that Google is partial to modulating its search engine to garner added visibility to company-approved topics and memory-hole sites deemed inimical to the software leviathan’s goals. Proof of this penchant for soft, creeping censorship can be found in the form of both their internally directed and externally directed campaigns (those solicited by foreign governments, such as China), as well as in their own written/spoken documentation or documentation obtained from Google (and its subsidies) staff.

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Google CEO, Sundar Pichai.

Corporate censorship practices

Google and by extension, Alphabet’s famous operative slogan “Don’t be evil” is a fascinating encapsulation of the moral rectitude of the company. Unfortunately for many, this sense of self-righteousness has led to more than one scandal involving censorship, a policy which has been admitted to and affirmed by Google internal documentation, most notably the infamous Good Censor memo, an 85 page document which lays out the company’s belief that the ‘American tradition’ of free speech was based on a misbegotten “utopian narrative,” and as a consequence, was no longer viable. In place of American concepts of free expression and speech, Google opted for what they call the ‘European tradition’ – ie. ‘good censorship’ through the prizing of “dignity over liberty” and “civility over freedom.”

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Excerpt from The Good Censor #1.
Snapshot_2018-11-30_19-15-9
Excerpt from The Good Censor #2.
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Excerpt from The Good Censor #3.

One of the European laws which Google mentions in its memo include the 2017 German Network Enforcement Act, informally referred to as the ‘Facebook Act’ which can entail a fine of up to €50 million (approximately 57 million USD) if a post designated as “hate speech” remains up for over 24 hours. To further compliance, the act stipulates that all social media companies covered under the ruling must submit public reports detailing number of posts flagged and removed. Facebook expressed concerns over the ruling, citing cultural-linguistic specificity, ie. some words, which are offensive in one culture, have a completely different meaning in another, such as “fag” which refers to a cigarette in Britain, but is a derisive term for a homosexual in America. The German government seemed unconcerned.

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German Parliament Building, Berlin.

Google accomplishes much of its censorship through passive modification to its search engine via a autocomplete blacklist, that being, a list of words and phrases which are purposefully excluded from Google’s autocomplete feature. In 2016, during the presidential election, two extremely popular nicknames for Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton (who many top Google brass supported) concocted by then-candidate Donald Trump included “Lying Ted” and “Crooked Hillary.” At that time, if using Google search, autocomplete would fill out “Lying Ted” instantly, whereas it would not fill out “Crooked Hillary.”

Google acknowledges the existence of the blacklist in their internal memorandum.

In addition to the autocomplete blacklist, Google also maintains a blacklist of certain territories in Google Maps. Some of these voided regions are military installations, others the homes of the wealthy. If someone who is not governmental connect or ultra-rich wants their home residence struck from the map or voided they are in for some bad news, as Eric Schmidt, responding to a question concerning privacy-invasion via Google Maps responded “Just move.” The question this obviously raises is: To where? Mr. Schmidt’s comments, though bizarre to many, are well in keeping with his personal philosophy; for example, in 2010, via a conversation with The Wall Street Journal, Schmidt stated the following:

“We’re trying to figure out what the future of search is. I mean that in a positive way. We’re still happy to be in search, believe me. But one idea is that more and more searches are done on your behalf without you needing to type… I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.”

Corporate values & political activism

In 2016, after the election of Donald Trump an over 1-hour long confidential TGIF meeting video of top Google brass was leaked to the press, wherein various company staffers expressed their dismay and concern at the election of the new POTUS, which “conflicts with many of [Google’s] values,” and the need for Google to take a proactive stance in thwarting the Trump agenda. Google co-founder Sergey Brin takes a particularly hardline on Trump supporters, declaring that they were motivated by “boredom” and, at various points, compares them to fascists and rolls the idea around of increasing donations to progressive causes. Global Affairs VP, Kent Walker, echoing Brin, states that MAGA supporters are motivated by “fear, xenophobia, hatred, and a desire for answers that may or may not be there,” and later goes on to say that Google should bring its tremendous resources to bare upon the issue to ensure that the American Populist movement is rendered nothing more than a “hiccup” in the historical process, which, he believes, “bends towards progress.” Google CEO Sundar Pichai notes that Google’s AI and machine learning programs will be utilized to combat the “misinformation” of “low information voters.” CFO Ruth Porat broke down in tears during a consideration of the political situation. VP of ‘People Operations’ Eileen Naughton states that “diversity of opinion and political persuasion” are important and that she has heard from some conservative Google employees that they are “uncomfortable” being who they really are due to political polarization. Despite Naughton’s temperance and raising of the issue, a few months later James Damore would be fired from Google, allegedly due to his political beliefs regarding differences between men and women. Naughton also states the need for sweeping US immigration reform to remedy a “broken” system.

After the publication of the video by Bannon-created news site, Breitbart, Google released the following statement:

“At a regularly scheduled all hands meeting, some Google employees and executives expressed their own personal views in the aftermath of a long and divisive election season. For over 20 years, everyone at Google has been able to freely express their opinions at these meetings. Nothing was said at that meeting, or any other meeting, to suggest that any political bias ever influences the way we build or operate our products. To the contrary, our products are built for everyone, and we design them with extraordinary care to be a trustworthy source of information for everyone, without regard to political viewpoint.”

In 2017, after the publicization of Bannon and Trump’s muslim travel ban, numerous Google employees staged a walk-out in protest. During the protest, Sundar Pichai and Sergey Brin gave public speeches in solidarity with their employees and migrants at large. Brin also protested the POTUS’ travel ban with others during a demonstration at the San Francisco International Airport, stating, “I’m here because I’m a refugee” (Brin’s family emigrated from the Soviet Union in the 1979).

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Brin at airport demonstration against POTUS migration policy.

That same year Youtube (controlled by Google) was sued by conservative commentator, Dennis Prager, well known for his ‘Prager U’ video series. Prager alleged that Google via Youtube, was censoring conservative voices. In 2018, the case was thrown out; the judge, Lucy Koh, stated that Mr. Prager failed to show how Google, a private company at the time, had infringed upon his speech rights.

In 2018, Google witnessed a large data breach associated with its G+ platform, potentially affecting the personal information of 500,000 users. Fearing congressional investigation and subsequent action in the wake of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company willfully obfuscated this fact and did not inform their users that a breach had occurred until long after the fact.

Affiliated Group: SPLC

“When I was 5, I bought a pig for a dollar. I fattened it up and sold it for 12.” — Morris Dees, Peoples Magazine.

Like many other tech companies, Alphabet/Google solicits advice from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a 501(c)3 legal advocacy group created in the 1971 by Morris S. Dees and Joseph Levin Jr., to determine what is and what is not a “hate group.” The Southern Poverty Law Center made its name combating the Klu Klux Klan at a particularly volatile period in the latter organizations history and as such garnered significant acclaim. However, the modus operandi for the organization, as revealed by a pertinent investigation of the facts surrounding their campaigns can only be described as free-mongering for-profit. Additionally, the SPLC has a long history of defamatory campaigns which slander and tarnish the reputations of political opponents (both real and perceived) of the organization. One such victim of the SPLC’s slander campaigns was US Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul, who was designated a “extremist” by The Center.

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Rand Paul SPLC “extremist” dossier excerpt. If Rand Paul is a extremist, I’m Paul Revere.


Sources & further reading

  1. Ben Smith. (2018) Project Strobe: Protecting Your Data, Improving Third-Party APIs, & Sunsetting Consumer Google+. Google Blog.
  2. Casey Newton. (2018) A Looming Strike Over Project Dragonfly Is Putting New Pressure On Google. The Verge.
  3. Frederic Lardinois. (2015) Google Is Now Alphabet, But It Doesn’t Own Alphabet.com.
  4. Google. (2018) The Good Censor. Memo. Insight Labs.
  5. Hillary Grigonis. (2017) Network Enforcement Act Says Remove Hate Speech Or Pay Big Fine. Digital Trends.
  6. Holman Page. (2010) Google & The Search For The Future.
  7. Ismat Mangla. (2018) Google Data Breach: Everything You Need To Know. Experian.
  8. Kamelia Angelova. (2010) How Google End Up At War With China. Business Insider.
  9. Larry Page. (2015) G Is For Google. Googleblog.
  10. Peter Hasson. (2018) Facebook, Amazon, Google & Twitter All Work With Left-Wing SPLC. Daily Caller.
  11. Robert Epstein. (2016) The New Censorship: How did Google become the internet’s censor and master manipulator, blocking access to millions of websites? US News.
  12. Taylor Hatmaker. (2018) Google’s Sundar Pichai Will Face Congress Next Week. TechCrunch.
  13. SPLC Website.
  14. Personal curated archives [forthcoming to Logos]

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Division-Convergence: On The Accidental Perforation of American Sovereignty

On March 7, 2018, Defense Digital Secretary Director, Chris Lynch gave a talk at the Cloud Industry Day in Arlington, Virginia, announcing and outlining a Department of Defense (DOD) program known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI). Lynch’s talk was one of many, all of which revolved around a DOD-directed cloud migration entailing a ten year contract for platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) instantiations, both classified and unclassified. The project was spurned on by DOD’s retrograde infrastructure and lack of cloud presence which paled in comparison to commercial innovators, as well as the fact that Amazon was the world’s single largest provider of PaaS and IaaS services (which made them a natural go-to). Cloud computing tools had become increasingly normative. The DOD, one of the largest employers in the world, could no longer compete. Thus, significant change was necessary.

Shortly thereafter, in October, Google – who had previously been attached to the bid – saw a upswing of internal protest against the action and swiftly backed out of the arrangement stating that their ‘corporate values’ were in conflict with the DOD deal. This marked the second government contract the company had backed out of; in June, Google had also removed itself from a second bid with the Air Force’s AI initiative, titled ‘Project Maven.’ Again, the Maven-disentanglement was driven by internal protest, with thousands of Google employees reportedly signing a document declaring that, “Google should not be in the business of war.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shared no such apprehensions and went public with AWS’ direction in relation to the deal, emphatically declaring that he absolutely would not be backing out and that America was a great country which needed to be defended. He further went on to speculate that the country would be imperiled if the major tech companies turned their back on national defense.

As Amazon and the DOD continued hammering out the details of the cloud migration plan a intimate survey of 5,400 individuals was conducted by the Washington Post1 via support from the James L. Knight Foundation and the Baker Center For Leadership & Governance, conducted from June through July of 2018 and released in October. Of those polled 3000 were ‘nationally representative’, 800 were ‘african americans’, 800 further were ‘latinx2 americans’ and 800 were ‘asian americans.’ The results were, to many, surprising. Confidence in institutions was cratering amongst the polis and satisfaction with ‘democracy’ (despite the US being a constitutional republic and not a democracy) was also low. Upon being asked how satisfied they were with how democracy was working in the US, only 10% responded ‘very satisfied’, whilst 30% were ‘somewhat satisfied’, 25% were neutral, 21% ‘somewhat dissatisfied’ and 15% ‘very dissatisfied.’ There was very little variation between region and education; however, there was considerable difference of opinion between gender and race and especially, party affiliation. A meager 39% of Independents and 44% of Democrats were very or somewhat satisfied with democracy in the US whereas 76% of Republics were very or somewhat satisfied. Additionally, 35% of democrats polled believed that members of the opposing party were a ‘very serious threat’ to the United States and its people. 32% of republicans polled responded that the opposing party were a ‘very serious threat’ to the US and its people. Perhaps most interestingly, the study found that institutional confidence was highly driven by party affiliation. Google (which recently abandoned operations in Kreuzberg following heated demonstrations from locals), the US Military and Amazon were found to generally inspire high degrees of confidence from those polled whereas governmental institutions (congress, political parties) and Facebook were found to inspire low confidence.

Among republicans, the military inspired more confidence than any other institution (whether governmental or non), with the press inspiring the least. Among democrats Amazon inspired more confidence than any other company or governmental institution, with the executive branch (unsurprisingly) inspiring least confidence.

The results of the study were then predictably swept up by partisans of both parties and bandied as weapons to bludgeon their opposition. One Twitter user responded to the survey by declaring: “Democrats place more trust in a major corporation (Amazon) than in any other institution. Amazing encapsulation of the shift from the party of labor to the party of technocracy.” Another user responded to the findings by stating: “Incredibly sad. The FBI, Amazon, really??? Another reason not to trust the Democrats.” A list of similar comments could go on for some time, those above merely here interjected to illustrate a general public tenor which saw those opposed to the democrats expressing incredulity and outrage over the party’s affinity towards Amazon (and “big tech” more generally) and those opposed to the republicans expressing anger over their continued support for banks and the POTUS. However, what such commentators are missing is the uneven diagrammatic overlap of positive affinities between Republican and Democrat support as both heavily support Amazon. The Democrats support the tech giant directly where as the Republicans support them through their support of the military, of which the DOD is a part, the DOD in turn heavily relies on Amazon and hence, support of, at least the DOD, is itself, at this juncture, implicit support for AWS, which continues to unfurl itself across the world like a gigantic octopus. Whatever change they bring about it is unlikely that all of it will be negative; one thing, however, is clear, that the corporation and the state are becoming increasingly interwoven and as a consequence, increasingly indistinguishable. It is here worthy mentioning that this was largely accidental, Bezos didn’t set out in 1995 to completely restructure the US militaries technological infrastructure, he only got to his position through massive user consumption and promotion of his goods and services. A voluntary shift through the cloud from one sovereignty to another without disturbing the totality. A perforation of American sovereignty through a inability to successfully manage data-flows, the importance of which, can scarcely be overstated given that all states maintain their power, principally, through oversight, through being able to account for every pertinent perturbation (preferably before it occurs) when any other entity is able to better aggregate, manage and utilize dataflows that entity (without severe intercession) will nearly invariably assume a position commensurate or above the state. Displacing its conceptual efficacy without displacing its members or other appendages which will only be spurned on by the erosion of confidence in governmental institutions documented by the WaPo poll and recent Pew Research3 polls4 which are symptomatic of a continuing series of grand-scale narrative shifts and conceptual displacements (the new tale of various globalism running into competition with older narratives of nationhood; the tribal member vs the citizen vs the global citizen vs the ubiquitous non-citizen user).

Sovereign platforms congeal, regardless. Regardless of left or right or their imploding center. A political trichotomy for which there is little hope for extended future survival. Upwing is the future. Whether that will be for good or ill and who for will depend, chiefly, upon the constitution of those platforms which successfully integrate the US government and who, through new forms of sacral inscription (new cultural flows, modulated by multiplication of new data flows and attempts to controls them), garner the vestments of the priest (the ‘game changer’ the ‘tech guru’ the ‘self-made man’ etc) and subsume the contemporary clerisy. Where once the state was a great and self-contained machine, now it is the confluence of outputs of extra-national and intra-national forces. Neither, chiefly, user nor provider, but rather, mediating receptor.

1The Washington Post, just like Amazon, is owned by Jeff Bezos.

2A rebranding of ‘latino.’

3The Pew Research Center is a fact-finding and polling organization which describes itself as a ‘fact tank.’ Pew is led by President Michael Dimcock. They do not take policy positions.

4See: (2017) Political Typology Reveals Deep Fissures On The Left & Right. Pew Research Center.

Dactyl’s Lullaby

You’ll see him at night, when the moon shines its beam

Tall, gaunt, inviting, his face so serene

Oh, he’ll whisper so sweetly, kindly words shall inspire

The fickle, black beating of hearts grim desire

No eyes to his face, all the better to see

The wretched behavings of those such as thee

Burnoose’s fell strides, his hands shall embrace

The wicked, then dragged to a most fearful place

So listen up all; whores, brigands and rakes

Tread not in night when the eyeless man wakes

So tuck up to bed and shutter the moon

And pray that He leaves you to rest in your gloom

Logos Anthology: Free e-book

The Logos Club proudly presents a collection of some of our finest choice writing featuring: Kaiter Enless, Cygnus-X, Gio Pennacchietti & Joel Hyduke. Re-distributing or altering the contents of this anthology will result in immediate manly challenge and a subsequent duel at ten paces.

Click the link below to receive the book and many thanks for your kindly patronage.

Official Logos Club Anthology, Part One

 

Value Ordination: Political Paradigm as Argumentation

Innumerable are the number of political compass tests which one can take online, from Playbuzz to PoliticalCompass.org to the 8 Values Github Test, all of which are sifted through and poured over, studied and analyzed by the takers thereof as if in the action of so doing they will confer some hidden and eldritch wisdom unto the reader. The popularity of political compass tests however, does not lie in their viewing by the takers thereof but in their viewing by everyone else. People that are likely to take political compass tests are also likely to be highly engaged in politics and thus are already well aware of their own political views and where they are likely to lie on any given political compass test (unless the given test happens to be poorly constructed, and thus, woefully inaccurate). They are not really seeking out what their ideological positions are but are rather looking for a shared visual platform where their ideological uniqueness can be shown to others. A narcissist’s past-time.

The fixation here is more upon the position of the individual along the political compass than upon the ideas which place them there. This is reflective of American political discourse more generally, where discussions are generally started with the prompt, “Well The Left,” or, “You see this is just what The Right has been trying to do for years now-”

Right and Left are, of a certainly, highly useful linguistic tools but there is here a problem which manifests itself whenever a particular political moniker becomes more important that being correct, that is to say, logically parsimonious (utilizing economy of explanation to arrive at a conclusion).

That may sound like a obvious truism; certainly it is true but it is far less discernible that it is readily obvious. Such is evidenced by popular internetisms like, “There is nothing to the Right of me but the wall.” Meaning, of course, that there is no one more Right-wing than the person whom is spouting the aforementioned phrase. This is only a positive however if the Right-wing views which the speaker holds are actually correct. That is to say, Right and Left are not arguments in and of themselves, nor is a statement of any ideological inclination. To say, “That is a Communist position!” is only a sufficient position in as far as it is actually wrong/illogical; it is not wrong merely by dint of being associated with Communism (which, by and large should be suspect for its historical record of death and intense political instability). Thus, for the previous example, it should, make the argument more suspect but it should not incline one to dismiss it out of hand.

Such is also true with rebuttals like, “But that is Authoritarian!” Well… why is that a bad thing? One should really be asked to explain.

In short, in the American context, the political Left and Right are all too often interjected in place of argumentation. Whenever the words Left-wing and Right-wing are utilized as a argument unto themselves, rather than as placeholders for extremely wide-ranging idea-sets, one knows that one’s opponent has woefully lost the plot.

Sex, Violence, Death, Toil: A Brief Primer On Fiction Writing, Prt. 2

Putting aside many of the age-old questions concerning the validity of the concept of Human Nature one can with absolute certainty say that there are Human Universals, that is, Human Generalities. Everyone who exists was born and everyone who was born will die. Everyone feels the pangs of hunger and thirst, of dread and envy, jealousy and admiration, lust and love, of purpose and purposelessness. This is so easily observable that is wholly beyond contention (“but what if we are all brains in a vat in a vast simulation?!” Some cheeky fellow will doubtless interject at some point – mischievous rogues).

The acceptance of this a priori supposition then establishes some very fertile ground for purpose in fiction. Purpose is the first and most fundamental thing any given writer should ask him or herself before proceeding with a given piece of work (indeed it is the first of things which one should ask oneself before doing anything). “Why am I doing what I am doing? Why do I write stories at all? What do I wish to convey in it’s pages?” (and it should here be noted that if one does not wish to convey anything at all then there is no point in writing to begin with, the art that is only for the self and goes not beyond might as well stay contained within the brain! What is it then but a dream?) “What is the purpose of my art?”

Naturally, only you, the reader, can answer such questions in their particulars but there are some general principals that might help us better establish and define our aims as fiction writers. First and foremost among those principals is that if a story does not speak, in some meaningful way, to any Human Universals, then it simply will not be read with any regularity – or even if it is, it certainly isn’t going to be remembered (indeed, why should it?). But it isn’t enough merely to speak to the human soul, as it were, but also to do so in a clear and cogent way, that is to say, a understandable way. It is, of course, fine enough to write for a specific audience in mind (the case of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra is here illustrative: his work was oft found difficult to interpret at best and downright incomprehensible at worst; the US literary critic, Harold Bloom described Nietzsche’s only fiction entry as “unreadable”).

Writing with a specific audience in mind is highly recommended; however, writing in such a way that no one but one’s own self and some small cadre of philologists and linguists (such would be the kind to say, Underworld is a masterpiece because despite it’s endless meandering without coming to a point, DeLillo is very good at making symbolic representations of waste-fixation as a American by-product which lays bear the soul of the post-industrial age – or some such tosh) is hardly the way to go for the simple fact that one is then, essentially writing in another language which will be totally incomprehensible to the common man and often, to the not-so-common man as well.

There is a tendency among post-modern novelists to zealously seek after originality at the expense of anything else (not all post-modern artists are guilty of this, obviously, but it is a general trend I have observed) and that anything else is generally a coherent and clear theme (again, DeLillo is a supreme example of this, he writes a lot of words but rarely says anything; there are implications, suggestions galore, but everything is tangential to something else which isn’t defined, or if so, poorly. Everything is obscured and referential, so much so that the obscure references and the inertia of his language itself become the whole point of the text – though he does, of course, have his high points).

This is a tendency to be avoid if you wish to approach art as a form of social communication (it seems lost on modern man that this was the purpose of nearly all ancient art – not the selfish, narcissistic impulse to stroke the ego that says, “Look at me! I feel something fragile and fleeting; observe it nonetheless, for such is my importance!” – but rather the communal sharing of a given societies highest ideals and aspirations for the purposes of civilizational lift).

Once one has acquired the knack for both clarity and purpose (and clarity of purpose) one should turn the mind’s eye to the directionality of the story itself. It matters not how far from terrestrial reality one flies upon the back of that great bird, creativity – whether you are writing about ancient dragons, or orcs, or cosmic horrors – certain human factors will always remain visible to be plucked out by the discerning no matter how phantasmal, grotesque or fantastical the setting, plot, characters or dialogue. Why is this – because you aren’t a dragon a orc or a cosmic horror, how could you possibly think as one?!

[to be continued in part. 3]